Although most people realise that we’re not all related to someone famous, it’s also true that not all your ancestors will be nice.
In January 2013 I was contacted by Robbie who, despite being about my age, turned out to be dad’s cousin. He is a son of Andrew, my grandfather’s brother who would have been about 50 when Robbie was born. Unfortunately his information was sketchy, he had nothing further to add regarding his father’s siblings and it seems that his father as well as my grandfather had fallen out with their father; Philip Joseph (yes, him). He was able to add that he remembered his father mentioning that PJ was living in Pretoria at a ripe old age. So, despite not gaining much from the exchange, having known next to nothing about the other siblings this was at least a step forward; a small one but forwards.
Then, as part of the search detailed here, I received information that an Andrew Joseph Robinson was cited in a divorce case versus Rhoda Robinson, born Wise in 1953*. Now, I know I’ve been burned more than once by pencilling in unproven relationships but sometimes they bear fruit.
Last month I was contacted by Nick who turns out to be my second cousin by marriage. He has been looking into his wife’s family for some time and being curious about someone he had not come across before, he sent me a message. Nick’s wife is a grand-daughter of Andrew who it transpired had been married before, to Maria De Kok, and was very unpopular with the seven children he fathered with her and then abandoned. Those children’s birth dates, ranging from 1930 – 1941, made it perfectly feasible that he could also be getting divorced from Rhoda in 1953 with two further children aged three and five. Not to mention Robbie born in 1962.
Nick is going to try and talk to his mother-in-law again but her attitude is clear: Andrew was a “womaniser and useless thing” who “lived in Joburg and had girlfriends” – the remaining family are not keen on talking about him.